Ag expert awarded for service
A SCIENTIST who actively involved farmers in his research – the CSIRO’s Dr John Kirkegaard –has won the 2017 Farrer Memorial Medal.
Dr Kirkegaard received the award in recognition of his distinguished service focussed on understanding soil-plant interactions to improve productivity, efficiency and sustainability of dryland farming systems, said NSW Department of Primary Industries director general and Farrer Memorial Trust chairman, Scott Hansen.
“Dr Kirkegaard’s extensive and distinguished career with CSIRO is providing significant agricultural research that has led to many benefits for Australia’s farmers,” Mr Hansen said.
“A hallmark of his innovative research has been his active integration of farmers and advisers into his research teams, which has undoubtedly led to more rapid adoption and impact in agriculture.”
Dr Kirkegaard is a chief research scientist with CSIRO Agriculture and Food based in Canberra and an adjunct professor at the University of Western Australia and Charles Sturt University.
Dr Kirkegaard and his research teams and collaborators have investigated aspects of improved crop sequence, rotational benefits and productivity of canola and other brassica species, improved sub-soil water use, development and integration of dual-purpose crops and improved productivity in conservation agriculture.
“Dr Kirkegaard’s expertise is recognised nationally through the numerous research programs he has led,” Mr Hansen said.
“He has contributed on the international stage at regular forums and advisory committees on agriculture and food security.”
In his oration titled ‘Farming systems agronomy – it is rocket science’, Dr Kirkegaard drew parallels between the teamwork and multi-disciplinary approach needed to achieve ambitious space exploration goals and the challenges of sustained increases in global food production.
“No individual technology is transformational – step changes in crop productivity arise when synergies between the best genetics and innovative management can be captured on-farm,” Dr Kirkegaard said.
The Farrer Memorial Medal was presented to Dr Kirkegaard at an award ceremony on November 22 at the CSIRO Discovery Centre in Canberra.
The medal is awarded annually in memory of William James Farrer, a plant breeder, in recognition of distinguished service in agricultural science in Australia in research, education or administration.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: John Kirkegaard (left) receives the award from Philip Wright.